The 32-year-old father will return to action this coming Friday, 6 September at ONE: IMMORTAL TRIUMPH, which emanates from the Phu Tho Indoor Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
He will defend his coveted belt against French phenom Brice “The Truck” Delval in the main event of ONE Championship’s inaugural Vietnam show, which also serves as the first all-ONE Super Series card in the promotion’s history.
Although the Thai maintains a busy training and teaching schedule at Evolve in Singapore, he always manages to make time for his two sons.
“I think about my kids all the time in my day-to-day life. Whatever I do is for them to have a comfortable life,” he says.
“I call them a few times a day, even more on the weekends and holidays. No matter how tired I am, seeing their faces gives me the motivation needed to keep going.”
His two sons — IQ, age 5, and August, age 7 — live in Udon Thani, Thailand with their mother and Nong-O’s wife of 9 years.
Because of the ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Champion’s incredible success, the boys attend school and are allotted the ability to live a carefree life — something neither of their parents had.
“My wife was really good at school as a child, but she never had the opportunity to further her studies,” he reveals. “Her family didn’t have any money, so it wasn’t an option. I want to give my sons that choice.”
Nong-O strives to financially support his family and give his boys the best possible upbringing, but he also makes a concerted effort to be a role model for his children, too.
“I work really hard for them, and I explain to them why it is important I am gone. I take care of them, their mother, my parents, and my in-laws, too. I set this example for them,” he continues.
“I teach them that we must do everything to improve the lives of our family. I want them to study and understand life.”
Muay Thai is the vehicle Nong-O has utilized to lift his family out of extreme poverty and create a name for himself internationally, but he is not pushing his children towards a career in “the art of eight limbs.”
However, if his two sons decide to follow in his footsteps, he will support them and help with their respective journeys.
“I really want my kids to focus on their studies, but if they want to fight, I will support it,” he says.
“If they are going to do it, they need to be serious. They must train properly, and get the techniques right before stepping in the ring.”
The boys have already shown a keen interest in the martial art, especially August, who wants to be a Muay Thai competitor just like his dad.
Nong-O has helped foster their growth and development in the sport by providing them with some training equipment. He also teaches the pair some techniques when he returns to Udon Thani.
“I bought them a punching bag for at home, and they play with it a little. But when I am back home, they get serious about training,” the Thai legend continues. “As soon as I get home, it is the first thing they ask to do.”
Nong-O will be thinking about his wife and two sons a lot as he gets ready for his second ONE Bantamweight Muay Thai World Title defense on Friday.
While it is difficult being so far away from his loved ones during training camp, he takes pride in his job and will do anything to provide for his family.
Also, the Thai wants to do good by his children and set a good example by living the life he wants for them.
“I teach them to focus on being good people, to listen to their mother, and not cause problems or be a burden on others. I really try very hard to instill this in them,” he says.
“What I teach them is how I live my life. I work hard, I am responsible, and I just live every day as a good person.”